“Find the love you seek, by first finding the love within yourself. Learn to rest in that place within you that is your true home.”
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

cintair corito gardens batangas

How could I say no to a Healthy Mommas Retreat from Michelle and Sab of Mothers Who Brunch (MWB) ? The election month of May had been especially hectic and toxic . My body was craving for a  well-deserved and pampered break .  MWB  whisked a bunch of fun and inspiring moms to Cintai Corito Gardens in Batangas to mark their first year as a community . What a fitting choice for our weekend retreat in this Balinese-inspired sanctuary . The Indonesian word “cintai” means “love.”  It reminded me of the importance of loving myself first.

healthy mommas from mothers who brunchWe, the mommas and the gracious friends of MWB spent the  day learning about healthy food, body positivity, being a body positive parent and a bit of pampering in this refreshing getaway.

cintai corito gardens 1

I love the place. The Balinese-inspired sculptures and statues scattered around Cintai, as well as the lovely garden is the ideal place to unwind, relax, and meditate.

cintia corito garden

In this haven of restful tranquility, I affirmed my healthy lifestyle choice as  MWB prepared a day of activities and goodies. I want to share some of these interesting finds that you might want to consider in your shopping list.

1. Switch your metabolism over to Green 

Eating healthy never tasted this good. The best way to ensure my  body stays in tip-top shape is to be gentle with what I feed it.  So yes to green juice and smoothies. Mish and Sab prepared a lot of smoothies for us using Severin Multimixer + Smoothie Mix & Go.

severin braun smoothies

Using the Braun multi quick hand blender, Mish prepared hummus. The Hummus recipe is to die-for with that sharp garlic twist.

braun hand blender

It must have been my lucky day because, I get to bring home the same blender where I will prepare not only hummus but homemade pesto and omelettes.

braun multi blender

Check out facebook.com/Colombophils for other detox products to help you stay fit and healthy.

2. Take Kombucha, the living drink.

They say , you are what you eat but you are what you digest as well. Kombucha (Kahm-BOO-cha) has so many health benefits : boosts the Immune System; Natural Detoxifier; Rich in Vitamins and Enzymes ; Energy Boost; Increased Metabolism ; PMS Relief and Relief from Arthritis and Joint Pain.

pattie and kombucha

Pattie Palma Gil, Corito’s owner and manager, shares how she prepares kombucha in her blog. I am so inspired to make my own kombucha that I ordered a SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) .


In her blog, she describes that “Kombucha starts out as a sugary tea, which is then fermented with the help of a scoby. “SCOBY” is actually an acronym for “symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.” It’s very close cousins to the mother used to make vinegar.  ”


When I took a drink, it tasted pleasantly like apple cider.  Pattie recommends kombucha in moderation. Start with 4 oz. a day and increase to 16 oz. limit.  If you are interested to know more about kombucha, read Pattie’s blog post. You can also order Kombucha through these suppliers.

3. Shop at the Super Food grocer to jumpstart your green smoothie

“There’s no better way to live than to have a strong, vibrant, healthy body in fighting form — regardless of age, weight, or any other starting point.” I am glad there is the Super Food Grocer where you can easily jumpstart your health with a Green Smoothie.

super foods groery stuff

They even have a free ebook which includes  recipes ,common  newbies mistakes, FAQs and super tips. Check their website, the Super Food Grocer .

the superfood grocer

4.  Eat Healthy Hatch Free-range brown eggs 

I can’t eat whole eggs if it is not free-range brown eggs . I am glad Healthy Hatch free-range eggs are antibiotic free and growth hormone-free. I just know when it is not free-range eggs. Some eggs sold in the groceries are not free-range. You cannot tell just by the looks . I know it by the taste. (Sometimes I think , the supplier just dips the egg in some coloring.)

free range brown eggs by healthy hatch

The Healthy Hatch chickens are raised in a barn-type farm where they can freely roam making the stress-free. They are fed with natural feeds, Azolla, Duckweeds, Moringa and Madre de Agua making the lay eggs with thicker shells that are resistant from bacteria and have bright yellow-orange yolks. You can visit their The Healthy Hatch Facebook page.

5. Loving yourself needs a little boost with Up & Up Skin refining and priming serum.

Beautique Manila  introduced us to Up & Up Skin Refining and Priming serum, as a non-surgical solution to various skin concerns associated with aging like sagging eyelids, eye bags, inelastic cheeks, crow’s feet, enlarge pores and hidden neckline.


Up & Up is made of Green Tea Extract, Ade Aluminium Erijissel Sump Extract, Trehalose, Adenosine, Dynalift, Chamomile Extract, Hyaluronic Acide, and Aloe Vera Extract. It is easy to use. Simply mix using the syringe container, and apply the serum to your skin.

up and up serum

The serum was applied to my sagging skin on my cheekbones for testing. A bit of skin tightening was observed but I will test  it more in the coming days.  Up & Up Skin Refining and Priming serum is available in PCX branches. Check out Beautique Manila facebook page.

up and up serum

6.  Use Beyond Borders Cocktail napkins, handmade by Ilocano women and men on antique looms

A glass of green juice and smoothies go hand in hand with a dainty cocktail napkin.  There is no greater feeling than buying local and helping the men and women of Ilocos who weave these  Beyond Borders cocktail napkins.  They use antique hand looms with techniques handed down to them by their elders. They are so beautiful.

beyond borders cocktail napkins

I love companies like Beyond Borders who take pride in the Filipino culture and its traditions, and a sincere desire to preserve them. Visit the Beyond Borders Facebook page.

7.  Pamper yourself with Green Mama organic perfume and lip balm

Simple and clean green living not only lies in our food intake but on what goes on our skin .  Andrea Fernandez Reloza, the owner of Green Mama “researched and was alarmed to find out that the items contained a lot of carcinogens so she decided to concoct alternatives to create a safer home environment especially for her children.” I am loving her Rose Vanilla organic perfume. The lip balm is perfect for my chapped lips.

green mama organic perfume

Green Mama can be found on Facebook at Green Mama Organic and Natural Products and Instagram at @Greenmama_ph

8. Get refreshed with infused water from the Juice Barista

There’s nothing like infused water to quench my thirst on our way to Batangas. The Juice Barista Infused Agua is made of fruits, veggies, herbs, spices and edible flower.

infused water from the juice barista

Check out the Juice Barista Facebook page for more of their infused agua .

9. Remember to Sip Hydrate with   the Juice Barista Agua Timer On-The-Go glass bottle.

Why not track your water intake and make it easier with time marks to help hit your daily water goals?  This is perfect for those who are serious about hydrating.

sip and hydate

10. Cool  yourself with Hann’s Ice towel on the go

What a perfect buddy during my workout and walking my way to my daily 10,000- 15,000 steps a day goal. Just wet, shake and chill! The cooling lasts for hours . It is also  completely reusable – just re-wet and shake!

hanns ice towel

What great finds not only for the moms but for everyone. Pamper yourself today. Nothing says “love me” better than some peaceful “me time” with the cool and soft breeze caressing your face.

“Sleep is the best meditation.” Dalai Lama

uratex sleep specialist 1
Sleep. Who does not need sleep? Sleep is the key for renewing and rebalancing the body and mind. I cannot live with less than 7 hours of sleep. I get cranky and less productive with work. The problem with me is sometimes I get caught up with work that I forget the time. If you’re a working mom, I can only imagine your day. The lack of rest at night has effects “that spill over to the day, making it tough to fulfill your personal and business responsibilities.” There are many ways to get the best sleep ever but first things first. One needs a comfortable bed. A quality bed is a necessity, not a luxury.

Didn’t you know that you will spend 20,000 hours on your bed over a seven year lifespan ? It’s worth taking some time and effort to make sure you make the right choice

uratex healthy sleeping habits

In celebration of Mother’s day, Uratex held a special party for mom bloggers at the Ronac Lifestyle Center, Magallanes. I am glad that I got to visit Uratex once again. Thirty something years ago, I used to buy their foam mattress for our customized beds. Oh my, they have grown and evolved to so many product lines like their premium mattress that combines the latest Sleep Science innovations and luxurious fabric for an elegant, superior sleep comfort. It was amazing to try these mattresses. I got to lie down on three mattresses (Premium Touch Sublime , Premium Touch Cozy Latex and Premium Touch Viscoluxe) . With the help of the XSensor machine, an image-pressuring device that helps sleepers detect which mattress fits my needs, I will know which mattress is the most comfortable.

senor technology in uratex

The results of XSensor test showed that the highest comfort index came from the Viscoluxe mattress. The Premium Touch Viscoluxe is specially crafted with advanced individually pocket coil springs and memory foam, that contours to body movement and alleviates pressure points. It also features quilted knitted fabric made from Tencel, that leaves a cool effect as you lie down. Treated with Sanitized® that effectively protects against growth of bacteria, odour, mildew, and dust mites.

xsensor uratex

Among the there mattresses I tried out, the Viscoluxe mattress had a softer cushion and it was the most affordable mattress , too. At P 28,799.75 for the queen sized bed, it is easy on the budget. A bed that’s supportive and comfortable is a key factor but it is important to remember that your requirement for support will differ depending on their weight and build. At least when you shop for a mattress, you will know exactly which bed suits you.

uratex mattress

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Uratex has pillows now. Their senso memory pillows are just so huggable. It is made up of premium memory foam that gently conforms to the shape of your head. I love the soft feel yet gives good support.

uratex pillow

In addition to mattresses, Uratex  has colorful  Lifestyle Collection Chairs that can provide accent in any room . Its sleek, bold form complements any space at home.

uratex lifestyle chairs

The rest of the afternoon was spent just bonding with mom blogger friends through the fun-filled pampering sessions. I was so thrilled to get a manicure and pedicure just in time for Mother’s day. What a relaxing afternoon.

pampering day

If you want to see the wide selection of Uratex mattress,  just visit uratex.com.ph


I can truly understand the Household help blues faced by moms in the Philippines. Let me make it clear. I don’t claim to be the authority on yayas, or the household help.

Before moving to our new home in 2007, I called up Marilyn, the girls’ Yaya who stayed with us for 14 years. She left after a misunderstanding with one of my in-laws. I asked her if she knew of helpers who might want to work with me. I told her I was afraid that my household staff would leave me as they are used to an exclusive Makati village. (Luijoe’s yaya went into maternity leave) I heard that household help in Makati can be picky with the village they work in. Marilyn assured me the helpers won’t leave me because I am a “good employer”.

I am?

Then she began to thank me profusely that if it were not for my training, she wouldn’t have started her own small food stall business. I am impressed. She is financially independent with a steady source of income. I noticed that her menu consisted of the snack favorites of my kids such as french fries, cheese sticks , burger sandwiches and more.

So I took note of her advice. True enough, the household help stuck it out with me. In fact, I brought four along with me in my new home. Two were permanent staff while the other two were temporary since I needed them to help me pack up and organize my new home.

I have been blessed with reliable household help in all my 28 years as a homemaker. A few of them were disasters but I learned along the way. So maybe I have something to say. Maybe not. These are my experiences:

1. Never treat your maid like a sister or close friend. Maintain a distance. But treat her fairly with an occasional friendly chat. Filipino culture is that way. It’s a paternalistic society where maids look up to their amo as a parent or authority figure.

2. Teach them. Train them to be better. If you can , teach them a special dish or a craft. They will be happy they learned something new.

I learned this from my mother. We used to have a bakeshop. Mom hired high school student graduates and trained them to bake, or ice cakes. Mom used to tell me that young girls are trainable. Today these household help have a business of their own . In the same light, I train my maids to cook, bake and do crafts. They love learning something new. I always tell them that their training with me can bring them financial independence one day.

3. Yayas that stay years with you like mine tend to be abusive or superior to the more junior help.

Marilyn stayed with us for 14 years. Over the years, she developed an attitude. She had this tendency to lord it over the other staff. Since she loved the kids to death, I was willing to compromise. What does one do in this situation?

Exert a little patience. Compromise. Since Marilyn stayed that long, I learned to thresh things out without emotional outburst. All it needed was a firm and friendly talk. Sometimes, I give space when I am angry at her then we sit down again when things have cooled down.

4 . Lectures are meaningless if there is no employer-employee relationship at the start. Helpers tend to get spoiled when they are treated like friends.

5. Don’t rely on their stock knowledge.

Sometimes I prefer to hire 18 year old girls because they are not stubborn in their ways. They do not have bad habits. In fact they are more trainable than the thirty year olds. For child care, I explain my philosophy of child care . I teach them the proper way of handling a child’s fear. Not that I will call the police if you misbehave type of discipline.

6. Compensate them well.

I usually pay a little higher than the going rate in the neighborhood. In my current residence , the starting salary is 3,000 pesos. I usually give 4,000 pesos for the first month then give an increase the next month and so on. The salary of the Yayas is a lot more. I often gave a higher salary so that they are not pirated by neighbors. After all that training, I am not about to benefit another person.

I also gave paid vacation leaves, thirteen month pay and Christmas bonus even before the Kasambahay bill was passed. With the latest Kasambahay law, we have given them PhilHealth, Pag-ibig and SSS benefits on top of their salary , six months ahead.

7. Never give old things away .

The tendency of some helpers is that it “might” be okay to get this item since it’s old anyway . Or it’s not been used. I felt really betrayed whenever I catch my things taken away without my permission. It was as if “stealing is okay” since “they don’t use it anymore” or “they won’t notice it’s taken”. I often tell them to ask me if they want an item and I will sell it at a giveaway price. Whenever I have a garage sale, I give them the first pick and a 10% of the sale proceeds.

8. Tell your spouse that you are the mistress of the household.

Butch was a law student when Lauren was born. When Lauren was 4 months old, I got a job offer from my old boss. One day, I arrived home and found out that our cook was dismissed . Butch said that he told her to leave because she overcooked a dish. I was mortified . Fortunately , Lauren’s yaya refused to leave even if Butch told her to quit. What was my husband thinking? From that day on, I told Butch that if he had household help problems , he needed to course it through me.

That’s all I can think of. Any ideas you might want to share?

So if someone says to us, by word or by action, “You should be over
that by now,” we can recall the words from the Talmud: “Judge no one before you have been in his place.”

my-childrenWhen people ask how many kids I have, I always say three children and pretty soon, the question goes on details like “are they in school”, “how old are they?” If I am not in the mood, I just say two children because the conversation will always lead to my son’s whereabouts. The moment I say my third child died 10 years ago, I feel a sense of discomfort.

More often than not “you’ve moved on , right?” , or “you found closure already?”

If a well-meaning friend said something inappropriate with respect to Luijoe’s death, I would try to focus on the intent of the comment instead of the comment itself. Maybe, my friend just didn’t know what to say.

Move on. It is just a chapter in the past but don’t close the book, just turn the page. – Unknown
Moving on does not mean closure…

However when they are acquaintances, I find it terribly annoying. The word “closure” carries with it an underlying message of impatience: “OK,” the person appears to be saying, “it’s time to get over it.”

Am I being overly sensitive? Perhaps.

It is not just me though. In meetings with the Compassionate Friends, the word “closure” bothers most parents. The “c word,” seemed to push all our buttons.

It is understandable that our friends feel uneasy in the presence of pain. How they wish they can take away our grief. That’s okay. But bereaved parents resent the implication of failure or self-absorption if one can’t adhere to a recovery schedule.

We do, in our own individual ways, gradually get better at bearing our loss. Mainly, the pain simply softens with the passage of time. Moving on means that we live a new normal never forgetting the love and memories of our beloved.

Ashley Davis Prend says that closure is not for people we love or for feelings.

Closure simply does not exist emotionally, not in a pure sense. We cannot close the door on the past as if it didn’t exist because, after losing someone dear to us, we never forget that person or the love we shared. And in some ways, we never entirely get over the loss. We learn to live with the loss, to integrate it into our new identity.

Imagine if we really could end this chapter in our life, completely. It would mean losing our memories, our connections to those we love. If we really found closure, it would ironically hurt even more because the attachment would be severed. And this attachment is vital to us—the memories are treasures to be held close, not closed out.

Perhaps it is better to think in terms of healing. Yes, we can process our pain and move to deeper and deeper levels of healing. Yes, we can find ways to move on and channel our pain into productive activities. Yes, we can even learn to smile again and laugh again and love again.

I have not closed the door on what my loss meant, for if I did that, I would inadvertently close the door on all the love that Luijoe and I shared. And that would truly be a loss too terrible to bear.

“Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have even lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.” Henry David Thoreau

To my dear daughters,

It is Mother’s day today and as you might know, I celebrate it everyday with you even if you are all grown up. Today, I just want to write about the rewards of the simple life.

Let me tell you that about finding ” the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter” to be thrilled by the stars at nights… some of the rewards of the simple life.” Let me tell you about our trip to Batanes.

I could not help but prance around the sloping hills of Racuh-a-Payaman , twirling around and singing “The hills are alive with the sound of music”. Remember how we used to sing that song in the car as we travelled the long and winding road towards Baguio?

Yes, Baguio has a special place in our hearts because it is home to your dad. I could not help singing with the wind as it kept throwing my sun hat away to protect me. I felt the wind was telling me to let go of my fear of the sun’s heat and just feel the cool breeze. I did listen to the sound of the wind as it cools my face during lunch. Want to hear the pounding of the wind that afternoon?

My friends who were with me say it reminded them of the Irish landscape. One felt like crying with the majestic beauty. Another thought “I see God before me”. I was speechless. I thought the picture pretty hills was reminiscent of the English countryside without the Friesian cows and the sheeps grazing the pastures.

I sat down on the grass to get my bearings and just be awed. But your dad wouldn’t allow me to just sit down. You know how I fear heights …but your dad held my hand and said “you are going to regret this”. He dragged me literally to see more than just rolling green hills.

He led me to the tip of the hill where the blueness of the sea kissed the sky. Ever since he learned to use the camera , he kept taking photos of Batanes.

I cannot begin to describe Batanes . Your dad in our article of Batanes “Enhancing the ecological and cultural tourism in Batanes” says:

Despite our preconceptions about the allure of the place, we were still floored by the actual experience of being there. A clear light seems to suffuse the entire province , real life in HD. The drama of the juxtaposition of the landscape and seascape left us gushing and groping for words. We have literally never seen any place like it, although we have done a fair amount of traveling here and abroad

I am not as eloquent as your dad so let me just show you some of the photos he took of me. You know how I am when it comes to photos.

Let me take you to the rugged terrain of Chawa cliffs.

The hedgerows which serves as source of reeds for roofing, protection from soil erosion and firewood. Hedge rows are also proof of the centuries-old practice of Ivatans on appropriate farming technology.

The fishing port in Diura.

The rolling hills in Vayang.

I took this of your dad as he stood beside the Mt. Carmel Chapel that sits in between two bodies of water, the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean.

The sound of the roaring waves of the West Philippine sea from Batanes Resort where we were billeted

This is the video I took of the resort:

Rock formations in Alapad Hills, the scene of the movie of Hihintayin Kita sa Langit (I Will Wait for You in Heaven) with Richard Gomez and Dawn Zulueta

I took a video while waiting for your dad as he ventured to the steeper side of Alapad.

The super moon that peeked out just before sunset at the Basco Lighthouse

The Ivatan art inspired by the beauty of Batanes.

But more than the majestic beauty of Batanes are the people themselves. You might find beautiful beaches, picturesque mountains, hills and hedgerows in other countries but Batanes is more than a pretty scene.

What makes Batanes endearing to me is the attitude and culture of the Ivatans, the natives of Batanes.

Ivatans are hardy and resilient, attuned to the vagaries of a temperamental climate. They have a strong sense of community. Neighbors look out for each other and every person is either an auntie, uncle or cousin. Bartering is still prevalent. The often-idealized concept of ““bayanihan” is actually alive and well in Batanes.

The pervading culture of Batanes “dictates that it is a privilege to help and be helped, and almost an insult to receive payment.” Isn’t that something to emulate and pass on to our children?

This Honesty Cafe store was started by Aling Elena Gabilo, a retired Math teacher for 40 years. She wanted to provide refreshments to the locals and travelers in the area. Anybody who enters the cafe can get food and drinks and drop whatever payment they feel like in a basket.

Aling Elena does not mind if the customers don’t pay or not. Her ultimate profit is the chance “to awaken her customers’ consciousness to honesty and responsibility and to teach them to live these lessons in the other areas of their lives.”

There is much to learn from the day-to-day experiences and resiliency of the people of Batanes. Life is about helping others and sharing their lives with one another. Rose Belmonte says it best about life in Batanes.

“Life that is lived fully will lead us to knowing who we are and becoming what we are made to be. Giving starts with one person. It starts with one home. One woman prepares food with love. One man takes pride in his labor. One traveler pays the right amount. One child learns to share. A neighbor gives unconditional assistance. Everybody does the same. And we get blessed with a community called Batan in an island simply known as Batanes.”

As your dad and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary in Batanes, I am convinced there is a certain majesty in simplicity. I realized that it is much better to insist on the genuine forms of nature, for simplicity is the greatest adornment of art.

As Richard Holloway says. ““Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art. They seem to be the purpose of God for his whole creation.”

I hope we can travel together to Batanes and explore it more. Most of all, I hope you can see how simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.

Mom (and dad)